Bean, “Compassionate Conservatives?”

Bean, Lydia.  2014.  Compassionate Conservatives? Evangelicals, Economic Conservatism, and National Identity.  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 53(1): 164–186.

Abstract: In the United States, white evangelicals are more economically conservative than other Americans. It is commonly assumed that white evangelicals oppose redistributive social policies because of their individualistic theology. Yet Canadian evangelicals are just as supportive of redistributive social policy as other Canadians, even though they share the same tools of conservative Protestant theology. To solve this puzzle, I use multi-sited ethnography to compare how two evangelical congregations in the United States and Canada talked about poverty and the role of government. In both countries, evangelicals made sense of their religious responsibilities to “the poor” by reference to national identity. Evangelicals used their theological tools differently in the United States and Canada because different visions of national solidarity served as cultural anchors for religious discourse about poverty. To understand the political and civic effects of religion, scholars need to consider the varied ways that religious groups imagine national community within religious practice.

Maddox, “Prosper, consume and be saved”

Maddox, Marion. 2012. Prosper, consume and be saved. Critical Research on Religion. 1(1):108-113.

Abstract:  A Sydney-based megachurch with global reach, well-known for its ‘‘prosperity gospel’’ of financial acquisition, has developed an additional strand: a detailed theology of consumption. The affinity between a theology of guilt-free—indeed, obligatory—consumption and late capitalism goes some way towards explaining the attraction this minority strand of Christianity holds for politicians, including those without personal religious commitments, in a secular electorate.

Kehoe, “Militant Christianity”

Kehoe, Alice Beck. 2012. Militant Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publisher’s Description: Today’s militant Christians follow an ancient ethos we can trace four thousand years to the Battle-ax culture of early Indo-Europeans. Roman Emperor Constantine, from a Germanic background, approved Christianity in AD 312, believing it promised he would be ‘the Anointed’ greatest emperor. His Indo-European militarism characterized northern European Christianity, through Martin Luther’s and John Calvin’s aggressive Protestantism, American colonization ruthlessly dispossessing Indian nations, rise of competitive capitalism, to contemporary White American Protestants fighting to make America an officially Christian nation. Taking a broad anthropological approach, Militant Christianity is a new insight into the culture of ‘Christian Warriors.’

Nilsson, “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland”

Nilsson, Erik (2012) “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland.” Stockholm studies in social anthropology. Stockholm, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis.

Publisher’s Description: Recent decades have seen substantial changes in the U.S. political landscape. One particularly significant development has been the growing influence of a conservative coalition encompassing evangelical Christianity, interventionist foreign policy and neoliberal reform. This study explores the force and internal dynamics of this political assemblage. Based on fieldwork among conservative voters, volunteers and candidates in a small city in northwestern Ohio during a midterm election year, it probes the energy of conservative politics, its modes of attachment and influence, and the organizational forms through which it circulates. Contemporary conservative politics are shown to be centered on a particular epistemological intuition: that to be able to act, one must believe in something. This intuition implies an actively affirmative stance toward “beliefs” and “values.” The study also addresses methodological and analytical challenges that conservative politics pose for anthropological inquiry. It develops a “conversational” analytical attitude, arguing that in order to understand the lasting influence conservatism one has to take seriously the problems that it is oriented toward.